Many Australians are being forced into home isolation as the Coronavirus outbreak takes hold.
It means some prospective home buyers are staying away from open-for-inspections to minimise their risk of spreading or contracting the illness.
With millions more buyers on realestate.com.au compared to last year, marketers of new developments have invented new ways of delivering to hungry home hunters amid the COVID-19 health crisis.
Leveraging digital technology
Modern technology has paved the way for innovative solutions to social distancing restrictions. Virtual tours, webinars and online forums are just some of the techniques agents are using to connect with off-the-plan buyers.
Marketing manager at Porter Davis, Maxine Dare, says the virus pandemic is an opportunity to fully embrace some of these digital tools.
“It’s actually forcing everyone to be really innovative and digital-first in their approach.”
Porter Davis has rolled out a virtual tour campaign this week, and has set up sales consultants with the capacity to speak to prospective buyers via video messaging platforms.
Dare says some of these tools have been particularly helpful for customers who are in self-isolation.
“For people who have returned from overseas and are in self-quarantine, they can continue in the home buying process.
“They don’t need to just wait out on the 14-day period and feel like they’re missing out,” she says.
The company is also setting up webinar events which will allow people to browse through homes from the comfort of their living rooms.
“It will simulate the browsing process so customers can jump in and have a look just like they normally would,” says Dare.
She adds, they are still recording high levels of interest, increased website traffic and strong sales leads amid the pandemic.
“We’re keen to keep serving our customers the best way we can. It’s not business as usual but we’re doing what we can given the current circumstances.”
Agents use FaceTime to communicate
Agents are focussing their efforts on private interactions with prospective buyers, as COVID-19 puts large-scale open-for-inspections on the back-burner.
Founder and managing director at 360 Property Group, John Meagher, says his agency is offering FaceTime appointments to prospective buyers, while private appointments are still available for those who still want to inspect a property in person.
“We’re behaving in terms of best practice. We’re doing health checks on staff to make sure they’re fit and well to show the properties.”
He explains, they are providing hand sanitiser at all displays, and ramping up cleaning efforts as much as possible.
“We’re also doing one-on-one appointments and working to accommodate the purchasers. We’ll meet them privately and stagger the appointments so there are no overlaps and only one client is in the display at any given time.”
Meagher predicts the property market will be in a strong position after Coronavirus peaks.
“The people who are prudent and are buying off the plan today are the ones who are going to benefit.”
Hygiene a priority at opens
But while extra hygiene precautions are being taken to stop the spread of Coronavirus, at this stage, the outcomes of property inspections remain the same.
“We’ve made sales all week and we’re meeting people over the weekend. We’re seeing big sales at $8-12 million.
“Yes, there’s a virus and, yes, we need to be careful. But because of the scarcity of great lifestyle stock in the market, the current opportunities present a rare chance for buyers,” says Teplin.